The Futures Past of Nintendo — a Brief History of their Best Gaming Hardware

Nintendo are only hours away from giving the world a look deep inside the Nintendo Switch. Not literally inside, as we will have to wait for March and eager journalists and tech heads to take apart retail copies to see the chips, motion detectors and Nintendo magic dust that goes into each of their consoles. But metaphorically inside, inside the emotional heart of the Switch, which, as all true Nintendo fans know is much more important than floppy teras and resolution.

In honour of this afternoon’s presentation, Silent Protagonist is looking back at some of the hardware highs and innovations Nintendo have released over the years.

Get a little Mario on your face

All discussion of Nintendo’s hardware needs to start with the Virtual Boy. The Virtual Boy was so prescient that you could almost end discussion of Nintendo’s hardware history with it as well.

In the mid 90s no one was even sure if high quality virtual reality was possible. Sure, we had visions like Lawnmower Man and Demolition Man showing us an idealised version of a digital second life, but Nintendo were the only company with big enough, red enough balls to sell us the actual technology we would one day use to virtually diddle Sandra Bullock or Sylvester Stallone. It would take two decades for the rest of the industry to catch up with Nintendo’s 1995 beast.

The world, as seen through the truth lens of the Game Boy Camera

The Game Boy Camera was generally met with muted praise by critics. A collection of older material, the entire piece is a quieter, more reflective album that rewards long term fans but requires patience and presence, unlike some of Neil Young’s more rockier detours.

2001’s Pokemon Mini, basically the future of gaming.

Before the Wii introduced motion controls to every gamer and their auntie, and subsequently the Wii U killed motion controls, the Pokemon Mini had a built in shock detector for its own version of motion games.

This little powerhouse contained infra red multiplayer, had rumble at a time when console developers where only just starting to include vibration in much bigger controllers, and is the only place you can play Pokemon Tetris.

Pokemon Tetris is like if God had found a way to combine crack with the distilled emotion humans call love. It is perfect.

The Pokemon Mini, released in the same year as the Xbox 1 (not the Xbox One), Grand Theft Auto III and Final Fantasy X, was the only set of games that anticipated the retro craze. With the mass commercialisation of nostalgia present in all forms of media these days, analysts agreed that a Pokemon Mini launched now would sell around 2 billion units. In 2001 it was only Nintendo who had the tiny vibrating balls to try to show the world the future. Unfortunately our minds and hearts were not ready.

Today, Nintendo will stride once more into the future, bringing us a 720/1080 gaming system in an era of 4k televisions. Limber up your minds, open up your bodies, and prepare to be touched in a good way.

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